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The articulation of government policy: Health insurance mandates versus taxes

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  • Ericson, Keith Marzilli
  • Kessler, Judd B.

Abstract

Can the articulation of government policy affect behavior? Participants in our experiment report their probability of purchasing health insurance under one of two financially equivalent policies: a government mandate to purchase insurance or a tax on the uninsured. During our one-year study frame, controversy arose over the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. Pre-controversy, the mandate articulation increased purchase by 10.2 percentage points relative to the tax articulation (equivalent to a $1000 decrease in premiums). Post-controversy, the mandate was no more effective than the tax. We show that articulation affects behavior and should be considered when evaluating the efficacy of policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Ericson, Keith Marzilli & Kessler, Judd B., 2016. "The articulation of government policy: Health insurance mandates versus taxes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 43-54.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:124:y:2016:i:c:p:43-54
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2015.09.021
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